You need Big Data to generate big insights – or so a growing number of folks seem to believe. To capitalize on this, Salesforce.com today announced integrations with several of the leading Big Data platforms for its Analytics Cloud, which is powered by its Wave business intelligence platform.
With Big Data for Wave Salesforce has created integrations that allow users to automatically bring data from the data management environments of some of its 80 Analytics Cloud partners into Wave for analysis, said Keith Bigelow, SVP and general manager, Salesforce Analytics Cloud.
The idea, Bigelow said, is to bring "small vertical slivers of data" from those platforms into the "last mile" where it can be aggregated and used to guide the behavior of line-of-business users such as salespeople and customer service representatives.
Two unidentified Salesforce customers are already in production with Big Data for Wave, Bigelow said. Not surprisingly, given Salesforce's Sales Cloud and Service Cloud products, customer use cases typically involve increasing sales or boosting customer retention. He mentioned a use case in which a high technology company pulled customer usage data for analysis to determine when customers were near peak utilization of services so salespeople could try to sell them more capacity. The company also used data analysis to identify when customer services were not being used, so it could contact customers who had already purchased services but were not using them and provide customer education if necessary.
Four Salesforce Analytics Cloud partners, Cloudera, Google, Hortonworks and New Relic, sat in on a call to offer some of the Big Data use cases that they see among their customers.
For instance, Adam Massey, director of cloud ecosystem, Google, said shopping website Zulily uses Big Data not only to analyze how customers interact with the site to present targeted marketing offers but also to correlate offers with inventory levels so it can deliver an optimal customer experience.
Cuneyt Buyukbezci, senior director of product marketing, Hortonworks, said analyzing Big Data is especially useful in use cases involving omnichannel strategies. In such cases, he said, Hortonworks customers want to reach out to their customers irrespective of contact channel and provide a consistently good experience. This requires "a single point of truth for customer-facing applications," which in turn requires massive amounts of data from multiple channels to be coordinated, correlated and served up to business users such as salespeople or customer service representatives.
Hortonworks customers are "not interested in where data comes from or the underlying complexity," he said. "They care about the insights, not the data."
Clarke Patterson, senior director of product marketing, Cloudera, called his company's partnership with Salesforce "a match made in heaven," noting that many of Cloudera's customers are customer-centric organizations interested in merging together data from diverse sources, correlating it and understanding patterns that can then be used for marketing or customer service use cases.
John Gray, SVP of business development for New Relic, said his company eats its own dog food, noting that New Relic uses both Salesforce Wave and Salesforce CRM and has integrated its platform with those products.
While Salesforce and its partners touted Big Data for Wave's potential to reduce reliance on scarce data science skills, Bigelow said that Big Data analysis initiatives similar to those mentioned during the call would typically involve a "data steward" who would make the decision about which data to move from data management platforms into Wave. The need for such a role is where data preparation companies like Paxata and Trifacta are "really taking root," he said.
Earlier this year Salesforce announced several mobile tools for its Analytics Cloud in an effort to make the solution more useful to business users.